§ Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.
§ Mr. Houghton
I seem to remember that the contributions to the Industrial Injuries Scheme were reduced not so very long ago. This Clause enables them to be increased by the amount by which they were reduced. Can the Joint Parliamentary Secretary explain this somersault? Why were the contributions reduced? Why are they now being increased again, especially since we urged the Minister's predecessor not to reduce them but to increase the benefits? Here we have the Government going round in circles again. We should like to hear more about it.
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance (Lieut.-Commander S. L. C. Maydon)
The contributions were reduced and have now been restored to their original level in order to keep the Fund in balance. That, very briefly, is the answer to the hon. Gentleman's question.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
One of the most reactionary things was to reduce the contributions. We were told that they were reduced because the surplus in the Fund was increasing at too rapid a rate. What will be the surplus in the first year and in subsequent years now that the extra penny is to be restored?
§ Lieut.-Commander Maydon
I cannot give an immediate answer to that question but I will certainly let the right hon. Gentleman know. The fact remains that in a scheme of this nature, which provides insurance against what cannot be predicted—accidents at work—there are bound to be fluctuations, and no human being has devised any method of being certain of what those fluctuations are likely to be.
We have already tonight discussed fairly wide variations in the estimates of the Government Actuary and I think that anyone concerned with actuarial work will recognise that these things are bound to happen. It is prudent when a surplus is building up for a reduction in the contribution rate to be made. It is equally prudent, when that surplus appears to be diminishing, to go the other way.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
We shall soon be finishing with this Bill until tomorrow. Perhaps I may leave this thought in the minds of right hon. and hon. Members. The penny to be restored affords us the opportunity to be generous tomorrow to those who need more help.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clauses 5 to 7 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ It being Ten o'clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report Progress; and ask leave to sit again.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.